Anambra Traders Seek Govt Intervention To Stop Illegal Construction On Top Of Their Shops

Kenechukwu Ofomah

Kenechukwu Ofomah

Traders from Ochanja Central Market in Onitsha, Anambra State, on Friday, protested attempted plans by some high ranking traders in the commercial city, to construct additional shops on top of old and weak buildings in the area.

The traders called for the immediate suspension of the illegal construction and arrest of those behind the act.

The protesters, stormed the State Capital City of Awka bearing placards with inscriptions such as ‘Anambra Physical Planning Board Should Visit Ochanja market’, ‘Save Our Lives Now At Ochanja Central Market,’ ‘Physical Planning Board Why Are You People Keeping Quiet’ ‘Ochanja central market is not for sale, say no to illegal shops at Ochanja central market,’ ‘illegal shops at Ochanja central market will collapse very soon,’ ‘say no to decking without strong foundation at Ochanja central market,’ among others.

The traders barricaded the entrance to the State Headquarters of Anambra State Physical Planning Board, Amawbia, after which they moved to the gate of the State Government House, Awka, along Enugu-Onitsha expressway, chanting protest songs.

According to them, they were in the state capital to appeal to the governor, Willie Obiano, to urgently intervene to prevent future building collapse that may lead to loss of lives and properties in the market.

Speaking to Journalists, shortly, after the protest, the leader, Chief Gabriel Okwuneme, alleged high-handedness by the Ochanja Central market leadership.

He also accused the leadership of collaborating with some State Government agents to construct shops on top of the weak buildings.

According to him, “we are in Awka to protest against illegal construction of shops at Ochanja central market.

“The market was built with one decking only and the leadership of the market are trying to build shops on top of the decking which has weak and faulty foundations, in which we found it dangerous to our lives and that of our means of livelihood.

“We call on the state government to order for the discontinuation work.”

Okwuneme maintained that the Governor needs to intervene urgently in the ugly situation to avert impending crises.

Addressing the protesters, the Chairman, Anambra State Physical Planning Board, Barrister Chike Maduekwe called for calm, assuring that their complaints would be given the attention it deserves.

While denying having knowledge of the development, the chairman, promised to meet with all the concerned stakeholders including the traders themselves, next week, to look into the matter.

“I will call the structures illegal because we didn’t give approval for them.

“We will visit the place next week to see it and then we will take the necessary steps to commence enforcement of building regulations in the state,” he said.

Maduekwe however observed that there is so much confusion in the market over so many interests in such developments.

“There are so many places where approvals were not given and once you start enforcement, people with interests will begin to write petitions and demonstrate.

“I don’t think the state can develop if we continue to succumb to the whims and caprices of meddlesome interlopers,” he quipped.

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